AppleSox Spoil HarbourCats Opener

Above:  Men Without Hats front-man Ivan Doroschuk belts out the anthems in front of the Upper Deck experience and 3000 fans at the HarbourCats opener (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Story by Josh Kozelj

Photos by Christian J. Stewart

June 1, 2018, Victoria, BC – The Victoria HarbourCats and Wenatchee AppleSox kicked off the 2018 West Coast League regular season Friday night with a low-scoring pitchers duel and 2-1 AppleSox victory at Wilson’s Group Stadium at Royal Athletic Park.

With fans on the new Strathcona Rooftop Party Deck, Ethan Fox delivers a pitch against Wenatchee on Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

The close to 3,000 fans in attendance were ushered into the new season with pre-game festivities including a skydiving performance, the national anthems sung by Men Without Hats frontman Ivan Doruschuk, and Sheldon Mack – injured in the tragic Las Vegas shooting late last year –  throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. HarbourCat players also donned Humboldt Bronco hats, in honour of the tragic bus accident that saw 16 players and team staff lose their lives earlier this spring.

The bulk of the premium reserved seats, plus the new party decks were packed for the HarbourCats home opener on Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

The home opener also allowed for fans to break in the new additions to Wilson’s Group Stadium — Pivetta’s Pen, the Strathcona Hotel Rooftop Party Deck and the Wilson’s Group Upper Deck Experience double decker bus along the first base side of the concourse. Even General Manager Brad Norris-Jones hopped into the action, receiving a haircut courtesy of Status Hair Salon in the early stages of the game.

Fans enjoy the view of the game from the Upper Deck Experience at Wilson’s Group Stadium (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

As for the action on the field, for the second consecutive season, Campbell River native Ethan Fox got the ball for Head Coach Brian McRae’s HarbourCats on Opening Night, while the AppleSox countered with a Wenatchee resident and homegrown talent of their own in Grady Miller.

The Upper Deck experience was christened on Friday with the first group of fans enjoying the view from the best seats in the house (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Fox got into some trouble in the top of 2nd inning, loading the bases with three consectuctive walks and no outs. However, the Southpaw avoided trouble, striking out Joey Magro and inducing a 5-2-3 double play to escape the ‘Sox threat.

Victoria second baseman Tanner Haney attempts to turn the double play against Wenatchee in the first inning Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Fox’s  luck ran out in the top of the 4th when Wenatchee infielder Mason Marenco got the scoring started for the AppleSox with a double to left-center field, scoring Cory Meyer who walked to start the inning. After giving up another single, Marenco stole home doubling the AppleSox lead to 2-0.

Trey Bigford would have one of the four Victoria hits on the evening (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

That was all McRae needed to see, as he pulled Fox for Clark Streby from St. Martins university. Fox finished with three strikeouts, four hits, and four walks over 3.2 innings.

A large group from Tourism Victoria enjoys the hospitality of the Strathcona Rooftop Party Deck during Friday’s game  (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

The pitchers duel strecthed into the latter stages of the ballgame, as Streby held the AppleSox scorless through three and a third, before right-hander Jacob Potter of Allen Community College entered the game for the HarbourCats.

Behind some quality pitching from Miller, along with relievers Hunter Boyd and Karver Pate, the AppleSox held ‘Cats hitters to four hits total.

HarbourCats GM Brad Norris-Jones enjoys a free haircut at Friday’s game (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

Victoria was able to rally in the bottom half of the eighth as the ‘Cats loaded the bases, and infielder Chang-Chi Yeh grounded into a fielder’s choice to trim the AppleSox lead to one. However, the rallied ended there, as Pate got Jack Smith to strikeout to end the inning.

Victoria catcher Ryan Green turns the front end of a double play against Wenatchee on Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart)

The two teams will renew hostilites tomorrow night at Wilson’s Group Stadium, as Garrett Goodall will make his first start of the season against Wenatchee’s Curtis Bafus. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m., with a fireworks display taking place at the conclusion of the game.

Tickets are still available for Saturday night’s always popular fireworks game.  Call the office between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm to inquire about tickets and availability.

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